I know that I’ve mentioned this on many occasions, but I have a selection of films which I just put on when I can’t be bothered thinking about what I want to watch. By that I mean, I suppose, my favourites which I am happy to watch over and over again. Sometimes I have to watch a film because I need to for a RunPee article. Sometimes there is something new which I feel I should be watching so I know what all the memes mean. Other times I just want to flop down into my armchair and watch something familiar and comforting.
It’s the visual equivalent of eating steak and kidney pudding or sausage and mash. I suppose you could call them comfort films. They aren’t all in a similar genre and aren’t from a similar period. There are different people either side of the camera. There’s have nothing obvious in common at all other than I enjoy them and can watch them over and over again. So, what are they? Well, in no particular order, they are…
The Italian Job
1969 – Dir. Peter Collins
While you can argue that heist films go back to the birth of cinema, this has to be the archetypal comedy heist film as well as being one of the first.
X-Men – 2000 – Dir. Bryan Singer
It’s Marvel but not MCU. Something to do with rights and legal stuff. Still, it is the occasion when Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen became friends so that is something to be grateful for as well as a cracking origin story.
Yesterday – 2018 – Dir. Danny Boyle
Great cast, great director, great concept…what more do you need? Oh…how about a soundtrack of Beatles music!
The Boat That Rocked – 2009 – Dir. Richard Curtis
I’ve said elsewhere how much I enjoyed this film and the memories it brings back. If you want a slice of what life was like in Britain during the sixties then this is the badger.
Dante’s Peak – 1997 – Dir. Roger Donaldson
This is one of those films that came out at, pretty much, the same time as another one about the same subject. The other one in this case was Volcano; Dante’s Peak was less jokey and clichéd and, I feel, much the better for it.
It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World – 1963 – Dir. Stanley Kramer
This is one of those films that I remember seeing adverts for in the newspaper. When we finally got to see it I remember my father chortling away through it and regaling anyone who’d listen about the cameo appearances dotted throughout it.
When Worlds Collide – 1951 – Dir. Rudolph Maté
Back in the 1950s there was a craze for science fiction films. Giant ants, visiting aliens, the Earth hurtling toward the Sun, shrinking men, growing women… the list goes on and on. This one is about a planet on a collision course with the Earth and what actions are taken.
Casino Royale – 2006 – Dir. Martin Campbell
The launch of the Daniel Craig Bond era. I’ve said, all over the place, that I think DC was the best Bond of all. It was also a series of films that followed a proper arc and told a full story. Excellent stuff.
Kingsman: The Secret Service – 2014 – Dir, Matthew Vaughn
I think I’ve mentioned that I enjoy an action/comedy/thriller and this is rather a good one! Hard to imagine that Aaron Egerton is as convincing as Eggsy as he is as Elton John!
Air Force One – 1997 – Dir. Wolfgang Peterson
Harrison Ford had been your ubiquitous hero for the last twenty years; he’d been Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and Jack Ryan. He was unbeatable and unmissable. So…set him up against Gary Oldman in his full frothing, spitting mad anarchist persona and you have a riveting couple of hours entertainment.
Interview With The Vampire – 1994 – Dir. Neil Jordan
Unusually for me, this is an example of the film being better than the book. The film is a whirlwind of plot, action, and devices. The book was like wading through treacle. Perhaps that’s why this is one of the few films that Tom Cruise doesn’t run in…
Runaway Jury – 2003 – Dir. Gary Fieder
I’ve enjoyed a good court room drama for as long as I can remember and this one is a very good one…with a twist! In this we see that the “twelve good men and true” can be manipulated. Lawyers Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman have to deal with riggers John Cusack and Rachel Weisz.
Get Shorty – 1995 – Dir. Barry Sonnenfeld
John Travolta taking full advantage of his “come back kid” reputation. A funny, gripping, and entertaining adaptation of an Elmore Leonard story. Oh…did you know that Martin Weir is based on Dustin Hoffman?
The Big Short – 2015 – Dir. Adam McKay
Financial shenanigans and fiscal skulduggery at a very high level. This shouldn’t be understandable, let alone entertaining, to the likes of me but I was hooked!
Catch Me If You Can – 2002 – Dir. Steven Spielberg
The true life story of con man Frank Abagnale Jr (Leonardo Di Caprio) and his hunt and capture by FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). Throw in Christopher Walken as Mr Abagnale Sr and it is well worth repeated watches.
Léon: The Professional – 1994 – Dir. Luc Besson
I remember all the fuss and kerfuffle around the launch of this film! Competitions to win the Gaultier sunglasses that Jean Reno wore as well as tickets were in the newspapers. I was there for the first night at my local fleapit and I loved it! It has joined the multi format club.
The Accountant – 2016 – Dir. Gavin O’Connor
There are some films that you look forward to and look out for. This wasn’t on of those. I can’t remember why I bought it. It was available as a streaming copy to watch during my lunch time at work and I was hooked! Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, JK Simmons…sorted!
Iron Man – 2008 – Dir. Jon Favreau
In some ways, this is where it all started. Actually, there were at least twenty films based on Marvel characters before Iron Man but this is the first of the MCU era. A lot of risks were taken, given RDJ’s problems but he nailed it.
Big Fish – 2003 – Dir. Tim Burton
I love Tim Burton’s films. I don’t think I’ve ever hidden that fact. And Big Fish is my favourite so far. Throw in Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney as the younger and older versions of Edward Bloom and you have a warmly entertaining couple of hours.
The Bourne Identity – 2002 – Dir. Doug Liman
Not the TV series starring Dr Kildare but the first episode in a, so far, five film franchise and a spin off prequel series. Masses of action, excitement, and exceptionally well choreographed fight sequences.
Fargo – 1996 – Dir. Joel Coen
Why is a film about a desperate car salesman hiring criminals to kidnap his wife so cosy, warm, and amusing? I don’t know, just be thankful to the Coen brothers, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, and William H Macy!
Contact – 1997 – Dir. Robert Zemeckis
I’ve already spoken at length about Contact so there’s not much point in me going on about it here.
My Generation – 2017 – Dir. David Batty
A documentary about the Sixties, the decade that changed the world. Narrated by someone who was right in the middle of it all…Michael Caine.
The Magnificent Seven – 2016 – Dir. Antoine Fuqua
There are plenty of people out there that will see this as heresy, but I far prefer this over the original. I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of westerns but I am a fan of Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt.
Outbreak – 1995 – Dir. Wolfgang Peterson
Unfortunately prescient during the time of COVID-19. At least no one was talking about wiping out whole towns to try and stop the disease spreading!
Bridge Of Spies – 2015 – Dir. Steven Spielberg
A true story of events during the cold war. In reality, spies are not like James Bond, they are like Rudolf Abel! The ever wonderful Mark Rylance won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the Russian spy.
Ronin – 1998 – Dir. John Frankenheimer
A prime example of how to use a MacGuffin! A stellar cast chase and double cross each other over a silver case. What’s in the case? Who knows! It doesn’t matter, the fun comes in trying to work out who has it.
The Day Of The Jackal – 1973 – Dir. Fred Zinnemann
A fascinating adaptation of a Frederick Forsyth novel. One of the first cinematic portrayals of how to get a false identity which actually led to changes in the law to prevent it happening so easily!
Deep Impact – 1998 – Dir. Mimi Leder
This is another one of those films that came out at, pretty much, the same time as another one about the same subject. The other one in this case was Armageddon; Deep Impact was less jokey and clichéd and, I feel, much the better for it.
Demolition Man – 1993 – Dir. Marco Brambilla
This is a real “just switch your brain off and enjoy” film. Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, and Sandra Bullock ham it up in this “fish out of water” action comedy.
Drop Dead Gorgeous – 1999 – Dir. Michael Patrick Jann
Coming from this side of the Atlantic, I don’t have any experience of the pageant thing which seems so popular over there. What I enjoy is the intrigue and suspense mixed in with all the humour.
Enemy At The Gates – 2001 – Dir. Jean-Jacques Annaud
Two snipers play a deadly game of chess against the background of the siege of Stalingrad. Put like that, Enemy At The Gates sounds intensely tedious. Trust me…it isn’t!
Strictly Ballroom – 1992 – Dir. Baz Luhrmann
Another film of which I have spoken at great length previously! It is one of those that, despite numerous rewatches, still raises the hairs on the back of my neck at the climax!
Eye In The Sky – 2015 – Dir. Gavin Hood
A gripping film which expands on the politics and practicalities of modern warfare. Especially poignant as this is the last on screen feature for Alan Rickman; he doesn’t disappoint.
A Few Good Men – 1992 – Dir. Rob Reiner
I’ve already said that I like a good courtroom drama and they don’t get much more dramatic than this. YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!! Excellent stuff.
The Fifth Element – 1997 – Dir. Luc Besson
This is one of those films which I’ve seen at the cinema and then owned on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, and as a download. Visually stunning, flashes of giggle inducing humour and Bruce Willis doing what he does best alongside Gary Oldman and Ian Holm.
Four Weddings And A Funeral – 1994 – Dir. Mike Newall
The film that made Richard Curtis a big screen name. Yes, I know he’d written The Tall Guy five years before but, be honest, who remembers that one?
It’s A Wonderful Life – 1946 – Dir. Frank Capra
This is, to me, as much a part of Christmas as warm mince pies, even warmer sherry, and pennies under the grill in case carol singers come around. I’ve written about my Christmas activities elsewhere!
The Grand Budapest Hotel – 2014 – Dir. Wes Anderson
When a director has a visual style so distinctive that websites are popping up acknowledging it then you know it must be worth a look! I love all of Mr Anderson’s films but this one may be my favourite.
Midnight In Paris – 2011 – Dir. Woody Allen
I very nearly added this to the Groundhog Day list but decided against it. A writer steps into the past and meets F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and more. I love it just because of the scenes in the Musée de l’Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries, everything else is a bonus!
Groundhog Day – 1993 – Dir. Harold Ramis
The film that started a RunPee obsession! If you don’t know what I’m talking about then follow this link to see and, possibly, contribute to a labour of love.
The Happiest Days Of Your Life – 1950 – Dir. Frank Launder
A bit of nostalgia. Due to a admin error two schools have to share one building. Mayhem ensues due to one being a school for boys and the other is for girls…remember this is back in post war England!
Highlander – 1986 – Dir. Russell Mulcahy
There can be only one! Great fantasy adventure with a cracking Queen soundtrack.
The Hunt For Red October – 1990 – Dir. John Mc Tiernan
A cracking adaptation of a Tom Clancy thriller. Featuring Alec Baldwin as the first incarnation of Jack Ryan.
If… – 1968 – Dir. Lindsay Anderson
Not all English public schools are like this…well, not completely like this!
MicMacs – 2009 – Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Funny, elaborate, bizarre a.k.a. Jean-Pierre Jeunet! Beautiful to look at and an intriguing story to boot.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark – 1981 – Dir. Steven Spielberg
I’ve spoken about this at great length elsewhere!
Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources – 1986 – Dir. Claude Berri
This is a bit of a cheat because there are two films here but it is only one story. The story is about a horrible old man who cheats a hunchback out of some land in the French countryside. The thing is that you hate this old codger all the way up to the twist at the end and then you feel sorry for him! Masterful storytelling.
Apollo 13 – 1995 – Dir. Ron Howard
Ron Howard is an excellent director. He can take a story that you already know and still make it exciting and entertaining. Rush is one example, Apollo 13 is another. In both of those films you know, if you were interested, what the ending is. Somehow though, Howard still keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout.
Kind Hearts And Coronets – 1949 – Dir. Robert Hamer
Before Eddie Murphy, Peter Sellers, Mike Myers, etc. did that bit where they play several parts in the same film there was Alec Guinness playing nine members of the D’Ascoyne family. Oh, and there’s Joan Greenwood’s voice…mmm…
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Former teacher, lecturer, homelessness administrator, pharmacy dispenser now happily retired, happily married, and a very happy granddad. I live next to the Mersey but on the side Daniel Craig and Taron Egerton come from rather than the side the Beatles came from!